Friday, October 8, 2010

1960: The Apartment

C.C. Baxter works for a big insurance company, where he is very popular...because of his apartment, which is a very convenient place for his co-workers and bosses to have their extramarital affairs.  In return for handing over his key (and hardly ever being able to go home), Baxter receives several promotions.  He considers this a fair trade until he falls for an elevator girl named Fran Kubelik, and finds out that she's in love with the married big boss, who has been using Baxter's apartment.

I don't like the beginning of this film very much.  I find it disturbing that all those men think nothing of cheating on their wives, and throwing poor Baxter out of his own apartment.  But it definitely gets better, and by the end I decided that overall I liked it.  Jack Lemmon's always fun to watch, and he's the perfect Baxter.  Shirley MacLaine is also good as Fran (at least she's not pretending to be Indian, like she did in Around the World in 80 Days).  And Fred MacMurray is perfectly slimy as the boss she's in love with.  This movie is also full of really good comedic writing, which is the mark of a good Billy Wilder film.  And while at the beginning the story seems very anti-feminist, it gets better by the end.

This is definitely a transitional film.  It is the last Best Picture Winner that is entirely in black and white (Schindler's List is mostly black and white, but it has some color).  This movie also provides a great example of Hollywood's shift in the 1960s.  Production codes were loosening, soon to be abandoned entirely in favor of the rating system, so the subject matter of films was changing.  The innuendos in films of the past few decades were being replaced by more explicit material.  I don't think this film would have been made even a few years earlier, and if it had been attempted, many of the lines would have been censored.  Calling this film explicit is almost laughable by today's standards, but I'm sure it shocked some people in 1960 (though not as much as Psycho, which should have at least been nominated for Best Picture).

Stay tuned for: West Side Story

1 comment:

  1. Remember that I didn't know about The Artist when I wrote this